The LeftWords Festival of Books and Ideas encourages you to come out and support progressive Canadian writers and thinkers. Pick up a variety of books and magazines from Canadian publishers and sellers while taking in presentations from guest speakers Stephanie Ross, Brian Palmer, May Friedman, Wayne Roberts, and many more.
As the cold weather rolls in, thoughts often turn to those less fortunate. Hoping to reduce the number of Torontonians who don’t have proper winter attire, country music artist Elyse Saunders has organized Warm Coats Warm Hearts, a benefit concert supporting Eva’s Initiatives, New Circles, and Jessie’s House. A whole lot of artists—including Donna Ferra, Arlene Paculan, Kat Leonard, KIRI, and Dane Hartsell—have signed on to donate their time and talent. Gently used coats or items of winter wear are requested in lieu of a cover charge.
The name “Mesopotamia” derives from a Greek term meaning “land between the rivers.” The Royal Ontario Museum’s latest major exhibit, which opens on June 22, takes this literally, as visitors flow between painted representations of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on the floor.
Presented by the British Museum and rounded out with pieces from institutions in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, “Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World” covers 3,000 years of human development in the cradle of urban civilization. Most of the 170 artifacts on display have never been shown in Canada.
Since its humble beginnings in the back room of Toronto’s Tranzac club back in 2003, Evil Dead The Musical has steadily risen in infamy as a ridiculously fun, tongue-in-cheek, gore-soaked musical experience. From those earliest shows, the musical has gone on to make an off-broadway debut, to win and be nominated for several Dora awards, and to play in dozens of cities around the world, from Montreal and Vancouver to Tokyo and Madrid. It was high time that the show make a triumphant homecoming to a stage in Toronto, and it finally has, at the Randolph Theatre.
It’s not every day that a media tour opens with the injunction not to photograph “the sex blob,” but so began TIFF’s preview of “David Cronenberg: Evolution,” the organization’s first large-scale touring exhibition (for now, it’s stationed at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s HSBC Gallery). It’s an exhaustive, stunning look at some of the wildest, most perverse creations of a pioneer of the body-horror genre—who also happens to be Canada’s most internationally renowned filmmaker.
Join ultimate party band Dwayne Gretzky as it tops off an incredibly successful year with the biggest performance of its career. Called Dwayne’s Dworld, the show will feature a number of covers from the film’s soundtrack, as well as three hours’ worth of new songs and old favourites. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the band will be joined onstage by a slew of super-awesome (and super-secret) special guests.
“Telling: An Audio Survey of Parkdale,” curated by Phil Anderson and Tara Bursey, gathers site-specific audio clips that relate to spaces across Parkdale. The opening reception and panel discussion (where the public will get the chance to discuss the different works) are on November 7th and November 13th respectively (both at 7 p.m.).
Get into the spirit of the season with the help of Christmas in the Park at Colborne Lodge. The public is invited to tour the High Park founders’ home, which has been dressed up in festive Victorian decor. Era-appropriate foods and drinks will be provided to conjure the atmosphere of a 19th-century Christmas.
Every revolution needs a leader. And though the movement to bring the classic 1980s musical Les Misérables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After the official opening performance at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the audience likely would have followed London-based, Richmond Hill-raised performer Ramin Karimloo (as the story’s golden-hearted protagonist, Jean Valjean) anywhere he would lead.
The Unit 102 Actors Company brings Shakespeare’s tale of power and corruption to life with its production of Julius Caesar. Taking place in 44 B.C., the play follows the events surrounding Caesar’s assassination. First performed as early as 1599, many of the story’s central issues are still relevant today.
Winners and Losers is a play by Marcus Youssef and James Long based on a game of the same name the two theatre artists sometimes play. They pick a person, place, or thing, and debate whether it’s a “winner” or a “loser.” But it probably wouldn’t be fair to pick their director (and Crow’s Theatre artistic director) Chris Abraham as a topic, particularly since he was recently declared the winner of the Siminovitch Prize, Canadian theatre’s most prestigious (not to mention lucrative) honour.
Campbell House Museum is artfully decorated for A Room Of One’s Own‘s nightly pre-show reception. Always elegant, the various rooms have cozy fires going, and books and letters are arranged for audience perusal. (We later heard many of these materials were sourced specifically for the show by star and producer Naomi Wright, who exhaustively researched her role as Virigina Woolf.)
Toronto theatre audiences have seen a number of adaptations of Strindberg’s Miss Julie in the past few years. The original now seems dated, but Miss Julie: She’Mah, a Canadian-targeted adaptation by playwright Tara Beagan, ratcheted up the tension by giving Miss Julie residential-school-educated servants. Canadian Stage’s somewhat less effective Miss Julie: Freedom Summer used American race politics. But British playwright Patrick Marber’s 2003 adaptation, After Miss Julie, zeroes in on sexual politics and baseline class separations, all against the backdrop of a British country home at the close of World War II. Red One Theatre’s Canadian premiere plays up the danger and slow-burning tension expertly, with three experienced cast members: Claire Armstrong in the title role, and Christopher Morris and Amy Keating as Julie’s father’s servants.
The Alumnae Theatre Company presents its inaugural FireWorks theatre showcase. Akin to the New Ideas Festival, this series features plays created in-house by local artists. Three pieces will be staged during the three-week run: Theory by Norman Yeung, Gloria’s Guy by Joan Burrows, and Measure of the World by Shirley Barrie. For those who want more than just stage productions, there will also be several roundtable discussions and playwright talks to attend.
The plot of Joan MacLeod’s The Valley, on now at Tarragon Theatre, is unfortunately all too familiar: an 18-year-old recent college drop-out experiences his first psychotic episode on Vancouver’s SkyTrain. The exhausted police officer called to the scene arrests him for causing a public disturbance, spurring debate over whether or not he used excessive force in the process. A Toronto audience only has to think of Sammy Yatim’s shooting this August to be reminded how common these situations are. A perceived threat to public safety coupled with the absence of a solid understanding of mental illness can—and often does—lead to violence.
Feeling nostalgic for your childhood? Alligator Pie brings the children’s poems of Dennis Lee (who also, you might recall, wrote the Fraggle Rock theme) to life on the stage. This Dora Award–winning production promises music, tons of imagination, and overall good fun for the whole family. Above, you can watch Lee recite the title poem at a previous edition of Word on the Street.
You might expect a show called We Can Be Heroes to be a send-up of superhero films, but Second City’s new mainstage production is actually a celebration of minor, everyday acts of heroism ranging from giving advice to a bullied child to managing not to be a jackass at your friend’s wedding.